By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: Suez residents will hold on Saturday July 23 a parallel peoples’ trial in the main El-Arbaein Square for the police officers accused of using live ammunition against peaceful protesters during the January 25 uprising that toppled the Egyptian regime.
“Deputy head of the Court of Cassation Mahmoud El-Khodairy will be the presiding judge in this symbolic court,” member of the Suez Revolution Coalition Ahmed Abdel-Gawad told Daily News Egypt.
El-Khodairy, also head of the Judges’ Club in Alexandria, is among the judges calling for the independence of the judiciary.
He is known for being an outspoken critic of the former regime, previously exposing vote-rigging committed during the era of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
On July 4, seven police officers, including the former police directorate chief and his deputy accused of shooting peaceful protesters, were released on bail. The trial was adjourned to September. Another seven officers are being tried in absentia.
The court’s decision triggered the anger of hundreds of citizens who began an open sit-in in El-Arbaein Square, dubbed by citizens the Martyrs’ Square, and held protests near the Suez Canal waterway and control office in Port Tawfik.
“The people and the families of the martyrs threatened to carry out the verdicts of these peoples’ trials themselves since the official court did not grant them justice for the martyrs,” Abdel-Gawad said.
“We are also calling for transferring the trial from the courts complex in Cairo to Suez and opening it to the public,” he added.
The Suez demonstrators and the victims’ families further requested sacking the Suez attorney general who allegedly ignored complaints against 41 officers and low-ranking policemen accused of shooting protesters and implicated in corruption cases.
The Suez Canal sit-in was suspended last Thursday while the one in El-Arbaein continues.
“The sit-in in El-Arbaein will continue for now until all demands are met,” Abdel-Gawad said.
“We also call for investigating the cases of police brutality recently committed by policemen,” he added.
Last Thursday, four demonstrators on hunger strike outside the local municipality building claimed they were subjected to torture inside a police station.
“Besides the previous demands and those we share with protesters of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, we demand an end to the unemployment problem in the city, the highest nationwide, even though Suez is a leading contributor to the national economy,” Abdel-Gawad said.
The Suez demonstrators frequently demanded justice for the victims, accusing the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) of violating their rights.
El-Arbaein witnessed the murder of the first protester shot on the night of Jan. 25. Official reports said that 29 were killed and 1,000 others injured in Suez in clashes with security during the first days of the uprising.